Actress Melissa Rauch is an intricate part of one of television’s most successful shows ever, The Big Bang Theory! Her role as Bernadette Rostenkowski is definitely one of the more notable aspects of the long running sitcom. The feisty character is known best for her memorable and distinctive voice. Theory and Rauch’s character are so singular that it’s easy to identify the actress primarily as Bernadette. The Bronze proves that Melissa Rauch is definitely capable of giving a notable performance outside of the role that has made her a star.
Rauch co-wrote The Bronze with her husband, Winston Rauch. The film follows a former gymnastics bronze medalist who is having a hard time finding her place in the world now that her days of competition are over. Rauch’s performance as Hope Annabelle Greggory definitely allows her to stretch her comedic wings in ways we haven’t seen on Big Bang. Hope is foul mouthed, obnoxious and not always easy to like—but she is always hilarious. Rauch has crafted a character for herself that definitely has a chance to rival Bernadette in popularity. Hope has plenty of hysterical quotes that she delivers in the film and it won’t hurt her appeal that she is constantly wearing her gymnastic tracksuit (which makes her an easy Halloween costume possibility). The Bronze and Rauch’s performance as Hope have all the qualities necessary to become a cult comedy sensation.
We spoke to Melissa Rauch about her new comedy film, The Bronze.
I really loved The Bronze—was this your first screenplay?
We (her husband and writing partner) have had some others we have written that weren’t produced. This is the first one that didn’t end up on a shelf somewhere. It was a labor of love. We wrote it specifically for me. When we first started going out to producers there was talk about giving the film to an actress that is more of a box office guarantee. We definitely wanted to hold on to it for me. It was a bit of a gamble but I am happy we held onto it.
Did you guys write The Bronze script primarily because you wanted to finally get a script produced or were you guys truly inspired by the idea of making a film about a one-time hero who has fallen on hard times?
I think it was a mixture of the two. We were really excited about the story and exploring the idea of celebrity. Exploring how our society treats celebrities. That was the initial nugget of an idea that we built off. We wanted to see what happens to a young girl when society chews her up and spits her out. We were excited because we are both obsessed with the Olympics—women’s gymnastics especially. Besides going to my job (Big Bang Theory) we didn’t do anything else but focus on this script. We were so inspired by the idea.
Hope is a lot of fun to watch and is a hilarious character. But, she can be very ugly towards the other characters in the film—especially her dad. How did you guys approach keeping her likeable while showing all her shortcomings when it came to crafting the script?
We didn’t want to water the character down. We wanted to show how dark and flawed she was. She is stuck and everyone can relate to feeling like they can’t move on. That feeling may last for a few hours for some of us but for Hope it’s been years. That stuff was important for us to highlight.
Did you research the world of gymnastics at all?
Honestly, I would like to say we did more of that initially. When we wrote the script we really wanted to make sure it was Hope’s individual journey and story. The research really came after we wrote the script. I read a ton of gymnast biographies, I took gymnastics lessons and I talked to a lot of gymnasts. We had the honor of having Olga Korbut and Dominique Moceanu in the film. It was interesting to talk to them and hear that a lot of the things we were doing were accurate—not that Olga or Dominique were doing any of the things Hope was doing—but just the mentality of that world and how it’s your life when you are training every minute.
Obviously The Bronze is a comedy and a lot of the experiences Hope has in the film are contrived for laughs. However, is there some truth in the character in regards to being a celebrity so young and then losing it? Is that something that happens a lot to these young superstar gymnasts?
Hope is an extreme case. Some of these gymnasts like Shawn Johnson and Dominique Moceanu have all gone on to do incredible things. Hope is at the other end of the spectrum from them. I’m sure there are gymnasts out there who have faced struggles like Hope. Hope is a combination of a lot of different things that can happen with celebrity. In the gymnastic world there are so many sponsors around you. You have to speak properly and you have to protect the brand you are endorsing. With Hope, all these years after the sponsors have gone, she goes to the other end of the spectrum. She talks however she wants. She uses foul language and that is part of her rebellion.
Now that you have written a screenplay and gotten it produced—do you feel a greater connection to writing? Would you ever consider leaving acting behind and concentrating exclusively on screenplays?
I love them both equally. They are two different muscles for sure. As an actor everything is so uncertain and you have zero control. That has always been frustrating for me. Not being able to do what you love if you aren’t given the opportunity is one of the most frustrating things about being an actor. I am a big proponent of writing material for yourself—especially if that is something you enjoy doing.
Is the next step for you directing a project that you wrote?
I would love to do that. I have only directed a few short films. I would love to jump into the feature length world and try my hand at that—for sure.